In July, teen pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo paid a visit to US president Joe Biden as part of a drive to encourage young Americans to get vaccinated. Her outfit of choice? A vintage pink-tweed Chanel mini-skirt suit. The look immediately drew comparisons to Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods and to Clueless (which came out in 1995 – the same year that Karl Lagerfeld created Rodrigo’s tweed outfit). 

Alongside the references to young, ambitious women of pop cultures past and present, the suit served to align Rodrigo with the new trend for clothes with “heritage”.

Connolly silk-cashmere T-shirt, £395. Max Mara wool-cashmere Arnes skirt, £350. Sophie Bille Brahe gold and freshwater-pearl Petite Peggy necklace, £1,725, gold and freshwater-pearl Peggy necklace, £3,150, and gold and freshwater-pearl Margherita Venus earrings, £975
Connolly silk-cashmere T-shirt, £395. Max Mara wool-cashmere Arnes skirt, £350. Sophie Bille Brahe gold and freshwater-pearl Petite Peggy necklace, £1,725, gold and freshwater-pearl Peggy necklace, £3,150, and gold and freshwater-pearl Margherita Venus earrings, £975 © Lara Angelil

Call it granny chic or just investment dressing, but demand for classic wardrobe pieces is on the up. The autumn/winter 2021 collections are replete with the tweeds, silk scarves and patent leathers that reigned during the 1940s and ’50s; Dior’s fall ready-to-wear recalls the maison’s postwar designs, with its nipped-waist Bar jackets and tailored skirts in heavy tweeds. Elegant swinging skirts were used on dresses and coats at Gucci too, in black-and-white check and in the house’s classic horsebit print. Rejina Pyo’s autumn looks brought to mind a ’60s cocktail party with structured patent handbags, double-breasted trench coats and slinky silk suits. Chanel refreshed the black tweed skirt suit with diamanté buttons. And silk scarves reign at Totême, where collections see them tied around the neck, hung over shoulders or knotted – à la Queen Elizabeth – and tied over the head. 

Stella McCartney wool Meya jacket, £1,295, and matching trousers, £675. Hermès silk twill La Danse des Chevaux scarf, £490
Stella McCartney wool Meya jacket, £1,295, and matching trousers, £675. Hermès silk twill La Danse des Chevaux scarf, £490 © Lara Angelil
Max Mara wool quilted Orafo jacket, £770, wool cashmere Ricamo coat, £930, and Louvre scarf, POA. Paul Smith wool top, £250. Hermès denim Tatersale jeans, £2,300. Tiffany & Co Akoya pearl Essential necklace, £2,500. Ilaria Icardi ring, POA
Max Mara wool quilted Orafo jacket, £770, wool cashmere Ricamo coat, £930, and Louvre scarf, POA. Paul Smith wool top, £250. Hermès denim Tatersale jeans, £2,300. Tiffany & Co Akoya pearl Essential necklace, £2,500. Ilaria Icardi ring, POA © Lara Angelil

“I have always loved heritage-inspired pieces. To me they will always be and have always been relevant,” says Shrimps’ designer Hannah Weiland, who tapped into the ’40s trend in her pre-fall collection with pearl earrings, floral headscarves and a faux fur-trimmed longline chequered coat. For Shrimps, which Weiland founded in 2013, an important part of the heritage aesthetic is in the use of traditional UK-made fabrics. “We work closely with a traditional tartan and wool mill in Scotland,” says the designer. “I love being British, and want to support and work with British artisans as much as possible.”

Key to the trend is a permanence whereby each item retains long-term appeal. “Over the past year we have seen a continued focus on heritage-brand bags and accessories, with customers looking to purchase investment styles,” says Heather Gramston, head of womenswear buying at Browns Fashion. She points to Gucci’s signature horsebit accessories and Daniel Lee’s interpretation of Bottega Veneta’s intrecciato weave – particularly in the oversized version on shoes and bags – as classic pieces that have proven particularly popular. “Modern updates of heritage have repositioned established luxury brands for a new audience,” says Gramston. “It’s an evolution of the logo trend.”

Dior tweed jacket, £3,300, matching skirt, £3,600, silk twill Oblique scarf, £360, and lambskin Lady Dior Micro bag, £2,500. Hermès leather Diane mules, £790. Gloves, stylist’s own
Dior tweed jacket, £3,300, matching skirt, £3,600, silk twill Oblique scarf, £360, and lambskin Lady Dior Micro bag, £2,500. Hermès leather Diane mules, £790. Gloves, stylist’s own © Lara Angelil
Gucci canvas and leather GG jacket, £8,610. Paul Smith wool top, £250. Hermès denim Tatersale jeans, £2,300, and leather Diane mules, £790. Model, Megan Hughes at Diverj Management. Casting, Keva Legault. Hair, Mike O’Gorman at St Luke Artists. Make-up, Nicola Brittin at St Luke. Manicure, Chiara Ballisai at Carol Hayes Management. Photographer’s assistants, Cameron Williamson and Callum Inskip. Fashion assistant, Andreea Radoi. Production, Rosco Production. Dogs, Great Danes Diego and Nelson. Throughout, Dogs & Horses leather padded collar, £60, and leads, from £65
Gucci canvas and leather GG jacket, £8,610. Paul Smith wool top, £250. Hermès denim Tatersale jeans, £2,300, and leather Diane mules, £790. Model, Megan Hughes at Diverj Management. Casting, Keva Legault. Hair, Mike O’Gorman at St Luke Artists. Make-up, Nicola Brittin at St Luke. Manicure, Chiara Ballisai at Carol Hayes Management. Photographer’s assistants, Cameron Williamson and Callum Inskip. Fashion assistant, Andreea Radoi. Production, Rosco Production. Dogs, Great Danes Diego and Nelson. Throughout, Dogs & Horses leather padded collar, £60, and leads, from £65 © Lara Angelil

According to Net-a-Porter’s senior market editor Libby Page, these looks are part of a gradual move towards a seasonless wardrobe: “Our customers’ habits have changed, shifting towards a conscious approach to buying and consuming that prioritises investing in seasonless luxury pieces that can be worn for years to come.” Again, Gucci’s 1955 Horsebit shoulder bag has proven popular, alongside Burberry’s classic quilted shell-down jackets and Max Mara’s outerwear.

So whether you’re shopping vintage or investing in future heirlooms, this season the chicest pieces are those that leave people wondering: “Did she inherit that?”

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